March 15th, 2010

Wondering if you’ve been sexually harassed? Don’t agonise in silence.

301 Moved Permanently views

If you are looking for more info on sexual harassment, see here

AWARE’s Letter to the ST Forum published March 15 2010

There are two issues that concern us in this matter.

Firstly, the issue puts paid to the notion that a husband’s extra-marital affairs are acceptable as long as he is discreet. The public outcry shows that the assumptions as to men’s and women’s roles and responsibilities in the family have changed.

Women today will not swallow the pain and hurt of a betrayal without complaint.  They will not accept that a husband’s infidelity is “unavoidable”, no matter how successful he is. The strength and cohesiveness of families is dependent on both partners treating each other with love and respect.

Secondly, the drama has drawn attention to a problem which is common but rarely talked about: workplace sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is any conduct of a sexual nature – verbal, visual or physical – that is unwelcome or offensive. This excludes any behaviour which is consensual – when both parties are willing, there is no harassment.

Some of the women involved reported that Mr. Neo used the carrot of career promotions to get to know them. This is a classic form of sexual harassment known as “Quid Pro Quo” harassment, characterised by an authority figure offering a subordinate career benefits (for instance “a bigger role”) in exchange for sexual favours.

It is not uncommon for a pattern of sexual harassment to go undetected for a long time. Many cases go unreported because victims feel isolated, blame themselves or simply because they are unsure that they have been victimised.

Maelle Meurzec, who was a subject of Mr. Neo’s attention when she was 16, described the feelings of many women in this situation: “…we want to tell ourselves that the man is only trying to be friends. We are scared that we are over-analysing things.”

Sexual harassment is very common. In a 2008 study conducted by AWARE, 54% of the 500 participants surveyed reported having been sexually harassed at work. This includes both men and women.

Anyone wondering whether they are being sexually harassed should not agonise in silence. They should consult friends, a trusted colleague, their HR department or call AWARE’s helpline at 1800-7745935.

Corinna Lim

Executive Director
Block 5 Dover Crescent #01-22
Singapore 130005

Note: for more information on Sexual Harassment, click here.

To learn more about courses offered by AWARE for organisations wishing to address this problem, click here


  1. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily SG: 15 Mar 2010

    […] The Singapore Daily: AWARE’s comments on the Jack Neo affair […]

  2. dennis

    Ms Wong Siu Yin’s ST forum posting on Mar 11th 2010 stated that
    “Sexual harassment holds working women – and men – hostage to positive career advancement such as promotions. It says: Cave in to your superior’s demands or face a bleak prospect at work. Such practices are certainly not limited to the entertainment industry. Abuse of one’s position of power and pressuring women for sexual favours are despicable. ”

    I like to add that abuse of one’s position of power and pressuring women for sexual favours is not only despicable but is also corrupt practice.

    From CPIB’s web page at
    “Definition of Corruption
    An act done with an intent to give advantage inconsistent with official duty and the rights of others. The act of official or fiduciary person who unlawfully and wrongfully uses his status or character to procure some benefit for himself or for another person contrary to duty and the right of others
    Corruption involves the dishonest or preferential use of power or position which has the result of one person or organisation being advantaged over another.”

    Superiors who practice sexual harassment should note the consequence of their action; the aggrieved parties should know their rights and recourse.

  3. petunialee

    Dear Corinna,
    do you think we should draw up a support network around Foyce, who has made a police report on Jack Neo?

    She is currently supported by male pastors. I think she needs a group of mature and confident women by her side.

    If you do decide to draw a network of friendship support around her, I will help. Please let me know.


  4. admin

    AWARE would of course be happy to provide support and advice (including legal counselling) to any party who has been a victim of sexual harassment. We won’t become involved unsolicited however we are happy to assist if approached by the victim or her friends/family.

    As an individual, if you are keen in helping out with this sort of case, do know there are many women who could use your assistance. Please consider volunteering with AWARE. Your compassion and enthusiasm to help can reach a wide community of women in need.

    Find out more about volunteering here:

  5. petunialee

    Thank you for your response. I will encourage her on various public forums to call you.

    Thank you for being there.

  6. patjlu

    Am glad to see AWARE is looking into this. Else women will be discouraged to come forward after facing sexual harassment.